|Congressional Record on Senate Amendment
FOREIGN RELATIONS AUTHORIZATION ACT, FISCAL YEARS 2000 AND 2001 (Senate - June 22, 1999)
SELF-DETERMINATION IN EAST TIMOR
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, today I am offering an amendment in support of a peaceful process of self-determination in East Timor. I am pleased that Senators Feingold, Reed, McConnell, Harkin, Moynihan, Chafee, Kohl, Jeffords, Kennedy, Kerry, Feinstein, Murray, Schumer, Boxer, Durbin, Wellstone, and Wyden are cosponsoring this amendment. Many of them have worked hard on this issue for as long as they have been in the United States Senate.
I understand the amendment will be accepted.
Mr. President, today, the Indonesian Government has an historic opportunity to resolve a conflict that has been the cause of suffering and instability for 23 years. It has made a commitment to vote on August 21 or 22, on East Timor's future, and recognized its responsibility to ensure that the vote is free and fair.
On May 5th, when I introduced a similar resolution, I remarked on Indonesia's accomplishments in the past year: President Suharto relinquished power; the Indonesian Government endorsed a ballot on autonomy; and the United Nations, Portugal and Indonesia signed an agreement on the procedures for that vote.
There has been more progress in the past month. Democratic elections have been held and the first members of an international observer mission and police force arrived in East Timor .
The amendment that we are offering today recognizes many of the positive steps that have been taken. A year ago few people would have predicted that a settlement of East Timor's future would be in sight.
But it also expresses our deep concern that August 21st is quickly approaching, and current conditions in East Timor are far from conducive to holding a free and fair ballot.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed, injured or disappeared in ongoing violence by anti-independence militias armed by members of the Indonesian military for the purpose of sabotaging the vote.
The inclusion of anti-independence members in Indonesian forces responsible for establishing security in East Timor threatens the neutrality of the military and police, and violates the terms of the May 5th agreement.
International human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations continue to face problems gaining access to the island, and members of the press have been threatened.
This amendment calls on the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Treasury--acting through U.S. executive directors to international financial institutions--to immediately intensify their efforts to prevail upon the Indonesian Government to disarm and disband the anti-independence militias.
We should be prepared to use all the resources at our disposal, including our voice and vote at the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other international financial institutions, to convince the Indonesians to stop the violence. This is not only their responsibility, it is in their best interests. If the Indonesian military succeeds in sabotaging the vote, Indonesia will face international condemnation.
On June 11th, I and other Members of Congress sent a letter to World Bank President James Wolfensohn about the need for the World Bank to use its leverage with the Indonesian Government. I ask unanimous consent that the test of that letter be printed in the Record at the end of my remarks.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. (See exhibit 1.)
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the international community has recognized the urgency of this situation. An international monitoring and police presence throughout East Timor is critical to creating a secure environment.
The Administration is shouldering its share of the costs of the UN monitors and police, and its members who arrived in East Timor several weeks ago already report some progress in stemming the violence.
But far more needs to be done. It is time for the Indonesian Government and military to do their part--to act decisively to ensure that a free and fair vote can occur.
This amendment reinforces what others have said and what the Indonesian Government has already committed to do. I thank the managers of the bill for accepting the amendment.
Washington, DC, June 11, 1999.
Hon. James Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank, Washington, DC.
Dear Jim: For many years, we have consistently raised concerns about the failure of the Indonesian Government to respect the human rights of the people of East Timor and to allow them an opportunity to express their right of self-determination. We are writing to convey our deep concern about the escalating violence in East Timor , which has put in doubt the August 8th ballot on East Timor's political future.
We have called on the Indonesian Government to stop military and paramilitary violence which threatens to undermine the vote, yet the threats and killings continue unabated. United Nations officials, East Timorese leaders, and members of the Catholic Church, including Bishop Belo, blame the Indonesian military for intentionally seeking to sabotage the vote. We have called on our own Administration to work urgently to pressure Jakarta to take the steps necessary for a free and fair vote.
We believe it is now imperative that the international financial institutions (IFIs), most importantly the World Bank, make clear to the Indonesian Government that if the August ballot is not free and fair, continued large scale investment by the IFIs will be in jeopardy. Jakarta must be convinced of what is at stake. If it fails to act decisively to permit a free and fair vote, it will risk becoming a pariah state. The government and army must abide by the May 5th UN-sponsored tripartite accord, most specifically by stopping and disarming the anti-independence militias that are using the weapons supplied to them by the Indonesian military to intimidate and attack East Timorese civilians.
We appeal to you to personally press the Indonesian Government to create a secure environment for the August vote and to prevent any efforts to restrict aid to East Timorese who have been displaced by the militia violence.
Thank you for your consideration.
Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator.
Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for a peaceful process of self-determination in East Timor . These are both exciting and troubling times in Indonesia as a whole, and the future of East Timor may be resolved in the coming months. President Habibie himself indicated that he would work toward resolution of East Timor's status by the end of the year.
The recent Parliamentary elections in Indonesia proceeded peacefully, and virtually without incident. It appears as if a democratic transition will be forthcoming, and I am hopeful that the people of Indonesia remain committed to free and fair elections. While we have supported these elections, and encouraged a fair process, we simultaneously receive reports of increased social unrest. Clashes between Muslims and Christians in Ambon are only one indication of the tensions which underlie relations between different ethnic groups.
The situation in East Timor has historically divided sympathies over an acceptable solution, and violent attacks in the region have become more prevalent since the beginning of the year. Evidence has indicated that anti-independence militias have been supported and armed by some members of the Indonesian military. The end result of such support can only be an increase in the political tensions and violence in East Timor . The militias have committed scores of human rights abuses against the ethnic East Timorese in an effort to suppress any movement towards full independence in East Timor .
It is as yet unclear how East Timor's status will ultimately be resolved. Solutions from greater autonomy within Indonesia to full independence are only two of the proposals that have been brought forward. The international community has sought to encourage an open decision process by the people of East Timor as to what their future status should hold, but the increased strength of the anti-independence militias threatens to undermine the process. In order for a free ballot to be held in the coming months, the United States must make an effort to ensure that the process is fair.
I co-sponsored a resolution offered by Senator Leahy to encourage an open ballot on the question of East Timor , but this resolution also urges full access by international human rights monitors and the disbanding of the militias. Such steps are critical to the fair determination of East Timor's future, and I hope that this Congress will continue to show its support for the ballot process.
Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for Senator Leahy's amendment promoting peaceful self determination for the peoples of East Timor and bringing the attention of the United States to the long and difficult climb of the East Timorese towards democracy. I am pleased to join Senator Feingold as a cosponsor of this amendment which underscores the importance of the historic opportunity which the East Timorese face, and our duty to support them in their struggle for peace and self determination. The upcoming August vote, or consultation, on East Timorese autonomy is crucial, not only for the East Timorese people, but for America and for every nation that supports democracy and stands against the rule of terror and violence which has shaped twenty years of East Timorese history.
The past year has witnessed extraordinary progress. The efforts of Portugal, the United Nations, the global community and the East Timorese leaders have been impressive. Combined with the willingness of the Indonesian government, these efforts have at last resulted in a plan for the peaceful and democratic determination of East Timor's political destiny. I would like to recognize all those whose courage and commitment have led us towards the August consultation, a consultation which will allow the East Timorese, at long last, to decide for themselves how they are to be governed.
Nevertheless, much remains to be done. As great an achievement as the promised consultation may be, the future is far from certain. East Timor , already troubled by years of bloodshed, has seen even greater escalations in human rights abuses in recent months. Although it has already buried 200,000 people who have died violently since the 1975 Indonesian invasion, East Timor continues to be riven by conflict. Organized campaigns of terror and intimidation have been aimed at East Timorese leaders and journalists who favor autonomy. Some international observers have reported that East Timorese have been systematically herded into camps in efforts to provide large blocs of pro-Indonesian votes in the August consultation. Militia activity, violence, and destruction continue unabated.
If the violence in East Timor is to cease, the militias must be stripped of their weapons and disbanded. International observers will play a critical role, both in the course of the consultation and in the implementation of the results that follow. Only subjecting this process to the harsh light of international scrutiny can we hope to prevent East Timor's violent past from serving as prologue to an equally violent future. Without our active participation and support, the hope of a lasting peace in East Timor is in danger of being lost.
Mr. President, this historic opportunity for peace must not be allowed to slip away. The United States has a proud tradition of championing those who seek freedom and democracy across the world. It is my hope that this amendment will encourage the United States to intensify efforts to ensure that the people of East Timor find peace at last.